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Karen Robinovitz

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When Good Manufacturers Go Bad!

Posted: 09/03/2009 7:48 am

Before I go on, note: Everything I'm blogging right now happened a while ago (at this time, the product is actually in stores, but I want to give you all the background to catch you up on how I got to today).

Business plan? Check.

Investor meetings? Check. (Yet no actual checks yet!)

Retailer? Check.

It was all starting to fall into place. We were about to send our product from the lab to our packaging manufacturer, who would assemble, label, warehouse and ship everything. We had the required $3M insurance policy.

Our first order of business -- get the products to London. We paid all kinds of rush fees to speed up our production.

Space.NK offered us the marketing opportunity of a lifetime: Purple Lab window displays in all 62 stores...during FASHION WEEK! Hello?! I was planning to have my burlesque friend -- the one on our website -- dance in the windows! It was going to be sick.

And then we got the news: All 30,000 components arrived DAMAGED! I mean, full-on damaged -- cracks down the middle and all. They weren't visible to the naked eye and it wasn't until our filler put them on the factory line that we realized there was an issue.

This is what they looked like when they started leaking. I was a wreck.


Ironically, the week before, I had an anxiety-ridden moment and actually asked this manufacturer about quality control in China since we weren't personally there to oversee things. He swore it would be fine.

Don't ask. It was Chinese New Year. Apparently, the entire country shuts down for two weeks during this festive time. Two whole weeks!!!

Our manufacturer denied that it was their fault and tried to blame the formula. The lab said no way. I even hired an independent plastic expert who had worked with Avon for over 20 years to analyze the situation and it was determined that they were leaking with water.

A) This cost us 20k!. B) We were clearly going to miss our ship date and risk losing our retailer. C) I was a mess and Todd could not calm me down. (He had to handle all dealings from this point on because I was waaaaay too emotional!)

Three weeks later, we were nowhere, which delayed our shipping even further (buh bye mega London launch).

I was mortified when I had to tell our retailer the situation. We couldn't look any worse, and then we received a bill for £13,000 pounds to cover the store's design costs. Are you kidding?

There was a light coming soon, but we couldn't see it yet. I'll cover that next time.

Till then...

P.S. Did I mention that we were already 3 months late in preparing for our fall launch and product development?

Purple Lab Creatrix


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